(April 23, 2020) Nina ZY Smith; Pablo J Vasquez;Nnenna A Emelogu; Alexis E Hayes; Joan Engebretson, Angela J Nash. The Good, the Bad, and Recovery: Adolescents Describe the Advantages and Disadvantages of Alternative Peer Groups. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment (March 23, 2020) 14, 1-9. doi:10.1177/1178221820909354
In 2017, approximately 1.5 million American adolescents had a substance use disorder (SUD). Adolescents with SUD risk hindering their neurological development, which can result in problems with memory and self-regulation, and in turn disrupt their education, relationships, and life opportunities. Treating adolescents with SUD is challenging. Thus, effective models that help adolescents engage in long-term recovery are needed. The Alternative Peer Group (APG) is an adolescent recovery support model that incorporates pro-recovery peers and sober social activities into standard continuing care practices. In this qualitative study thematic content analysis methods were used to explore transcripts from in-depth interviews with adolescent APG participants collected in a prior study. The aim of this secondary analysis was to get a clear understanding of adolescents’ perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of APGs for supporting SUD recovery. Findings suggest that pro-recovery peer and adult role models, structured activities and a positive social climate that promotes fun, a sense of belonging, and accountability are continuing care elements that are likely to help adolescents resolve their ambivalence about SUD recovery and increase their motivation to engage in the hard work of recovery. These findings can inform the design of effective recovery support model services that promote long-term recovery for adolescents with SUD.